The most recent Olympics controversy is the decision to suspend the leading American sprinter, Sha’Carri Richardson, from competing this month because she tested positive for marijuana use. Americans are split, with 47% disapproving of the ban and 40% approving.
Those who are likely to watch more than a few events are split on whether Richardson should be allowed to compete.
President Biden’s statement that “the rules are the rules, and everybody knows what the rules were going in”, supporting Richardson’s ban, meets with bipartisan public support. Two-thirds of both Republicans and Democrats approve of the statement. Among those who disapprove of the ban, opinion of Biden on this is as likely to be positive (46%) as negative (45%).
Americans tend to approve of the ban on athletes using recreational drugs, with 50% saying they should not be allowed compared to 30% who think they should.
When it comes to non-recreational substances that would enhance performance, there is virtually no support (6%) for the use of hormones, steroids and other such drugs. As many as 86% oppose their use.
Most Americans (61%) likewise oppose allowing the use of equipment that might provide a competitive advantage, such as carbon fiber equipment.
With less than a month to go before the Games, the International Swimming Federation (Fina) banned use of swimming caps designed for natural black hair at the competition, saying such caps “did not fit the natural form of the head”. Most Americans disapprove of this move, however, with 61% saying clothing that accommodates natural ethnic differences should be allowed.
Americans are likewise supportive of allowing athletes to wear items reflecting an athlete’s religious beliefs, like yarmulkes or hijabs, by 52% to 29%.
There is somewhat less support among Republicans on both clothing questions, though more approve than disapprove. Republicans approve of allowing clothing to accommodate ethnic differences by two to one (54% to 26%), and support allowing religious clothing by 46% to 36%.
Those who are the most likely to watch this year are even more supportive than the public as a whole for clothing adjustments, but much more negative when it comes to adopting equipment that could produce better performance.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between July 10 - 13, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.